We were delighted to welcome Larry McKenna (left) to the shop in June. Director and winemaker at Escarpment, widely known as ‘McPinot’, Larry is a legend with a solid reputation for getting the best out of Pinot Noir. The soil around Escarpment is deep alluvial and the planting of vines is high density. High leaf to fruit ratio, combined with warm, dry summers, produce wines of exceptional power and style. The Escarpment Vineyard, Martinborough, New Zealand promises some of the very best of tomorrow’s definitive New World Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. With respected winemaker Larry McKenna applying his distinctive skill to what he does best – making premium wine – the result is some of New Zealand’s most layered, flavoursome and complex wines. Escarpment is accredited with Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand ®, an industry initiative directed through New Zealand Winegrowers and is in the process of converting to full organic status. You can browse our range of wines from Escarpment here.
Larry has firmly established himself as a leading winemaker and is particularly renowned and respected as one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent Pinot Noir winemaker. Referred to by various wine writers and authorities as everything from the ‘Prince of Pinot Noir’, the ‘Godfather of Pinot Noir’, a Pinot Noir ‘legend’, and ‘maestro’, Larry has built a solid reputation for understanding and gaining the best out of this typically stubborn and capricious grape. (No mean feat, for as leading British wine writer, Jancis Robinson, says “pinot is a minx of a grape” and “demands much of both vine-grower and winemaker”).
Much of Larry’s success with wine making has come from a deep seated passion for producing the very best wine out of the grapes he has to work with. He takes a collaborative approach to wine making and believes in sharing his knowledge and understanding with fellow winemakers to ensure collective learning and progression occurs. He points to the developments and successes in recent years with NZ’s Pinot Noir and argues that the open exchange the winemakers have shared and the fact they represent a range if nationalities and approaches to wine making and this grape, benefits the quality of the wine produced.
Playing an integral role in helping shape the development of Pinot Noir in New Zealand, Larry has headed-up a number of winemaker-critiquing workshops and conferences to ensure this open exchange and healthy sharing of learning and knowledge continues and is valued by emerging wine makers as well as established ones.
Known for his relaxed and unassuming style Larry applies the same approach to his winemaking. Rather than force a wine into doing something out of character, he works with the grapes to develop distinctively superior wines that are true to character, quality and vintage. And this doesn’t stop at Pinot Noir. Regardless of the varietal, Larry applies the same skill, precision, understanding and integrity to ensure his Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Blanc stand proudly alongside his Noir.
Born and bred in Adelaide, Australia he graduated from the Roseworthy Agricultural College there in 1976 and has nearly three decades of wine making experience under his belt. After travelling for a stint through Europe sampling the wine culture, he ‘cut his teeth’ with fellow Roseworthy student, John Hancock, at Delegat’s Wine Estate in Auckland, New Zealand.
In 1986 Larry left Auckland to take up the position of CEO/Winemaker at Martinborough Vineyard in the Wairarapa region. From 1986 to 1999 he grew this company from 20 to 160 tonnes and firmly put Martinborough Vineyard and himself on the world map as one of the pre-eminent New World Pinot Noir producers and winemakers.
All photos © Escarpment
Our June 2017 Wine Club tasting was with Larry McKenna of Escarpment Vineyard, Martinborough, New Zealand and took place on Thursday 1st June at 7pm in our shop in Monkstown.
We were delighted to welcome Larry to the shop and the June wine club event presented a rare opportunity to meet the man himself in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere as he took us on a very personal tasting of Pinot Noir.
Visit the winery website: http://escarpment.co.nz/
Follow Larry on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LarryMcPinot